James Dean was one of the most significant cultural icons of the mid-20th century. He remembers his 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, in which he plays the troubled teen Jim Stark. After that film hit theaters, Dean became synonymous with the concepts of social estrangement and teenage disillusionment. He follows Rebel Without a Cause up with roles such as the loner. Cal Trask, in 1955s East of Eden and the ill-temper ranch hand Jett Rink in 1956s Giant.
Dean is too dominant where the sky is his only limit when he involves in a car accident in 1955. At just 24 years old, his life suddenly snuffed out in the blink of an eye. It’s no telling where Dean’s career could have taken him if he hadn’t died so young, but likely he would have gone on to achieve heights that folks like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne managed to reach throughout their respective careers.
Granted, when a star dies prematurely, sometimes they are immortalized posthumously with almost legendary status. James Dean was the quintessential example of this principle in action. Since his passing, he has been all-but worshiped by his fans – many of which likely have caught themselves projecting their fantasies upon him from time to time.
Interestingly, for many years, not much was really known for certain about James Deans personal life. For decades people have been speculating about Dean’s sexuality – and in recent times, he has even been considered to be a gay icon by some. Regardless of his orientation, James was certainly a star that exuded raw, unfiltered sexual energy and charisma. His perceived experimental take on life and ambivalent sexuality, however, has kept us guessing ever since his untimely death.
We currently live in an incredible time. Information is no longer as scarce as it once was before the advent of the internet. Granted, not everything we read online is true, but the web certainly has done wonders for researchers who attempt to piece the puzzle of the past back together. One fascinating piece of James Dean’s puzzle related to his sexuality revealed to us by his dear friend Elizabeth Taylor.
Join Facts Verse as we see which one of Dean’s darkest secrets Taylor shed some light on in her final years. For anyone curious about who the REAL James Dean was, this is one video you won’t want to miss.
Taylor’s Speech At The 2000 GLAAD Media Awards
Elizabeth Taylor Met Dean while working together on the set of the 1956 film Giant. Taylor played the character Leslie Lynnton Benedict while Dean played the role of Jett Rink. Other stars that appeared in that film included Jane Withers, Dennis Hopper, and Rock Hudson.
Hudson, although very discreet about his sexuality, known to be gay. In 1984 he was diagnosed with AIDS. A year later, he became one of the first stars to announce that he had contracted the disease. He was sadly also one of the first celebrities to die from AIDS when he passed away at the age of 59 on the 2nd of October, 1985.
Elizabeth Taylor would become lifelong friends with both Rock Hudson and James Dean. During the Reagan years, she was one of the first and most prominent celebrities to get behind AIDS fundraising. In the early 80s, she have the nickname ‘The Joan of Arc Of AIDS’. She remained a fierce ally of the LGBTQ community until her death on March 23, 2011.
Taylor created the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991. And later foudned the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center in DC to offer free HIV and AIDS testing not long after that. In 2015, Taylor’s former business partner Kathy Ireland revealed that during the 80s; Taylor ran an illegal underground network to distribute medications to people living with AIDS before the FDA had approved them.
For her work dedicated to fighting AIDS, Taylor honored with several major awards and honors. In 1987, she was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor. In 1993, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The Screen Actors Guild honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanitarian service in 1997, and she received the prestigious GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2000.
When she attended the 2000 GLAAD Media Awards to accept the award; Taylor gave a speech in which referred to James Dean as gay. In the same speech, she also identified Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift as members of the LGBTQ community.
Just three years earlier, Taylor gave an interview with Poz Magazine’s Kevin Sessums in which she elaborated on James’ sexuality. While also revealing one of his darkest secrets. Taylor shared the shocking information she had about James Dean under the condition that the interview that will not be published until after she died.
Taylor told Sessums that when James was 11, shortly after his mother passed away; he began being molested by a minister. She went on to share that it was her belief that Dean was haunted by that trauma for the remainder of his life.
While filming Giant, Taylor shared that she and James would stay up all night talking. During the course of those chats, Dean apparently confessed many things to her.
When’s Poz’s Kevin Sessums asked Taylor if Dean was gay, she replied by saying that when he died, James hadn’t yet made up his mind about his sexuality. And don’t go anywhere just yet. Stick around to see what some of James’ closest friends had to say about his sexuality.
James Dean Didn’t Want To Limit His Options
When James Dean was alive, he was once questioned about his sexuality. He replied by saying that while he wasn’t a homosexual. But he didn’t want to go through life with ‘one hand tied behind’ his back.
Hollywood columnist Joe Hyams would later suggest that any gay activity that James might have taken part. And could have merely been as a way of advancing his career. Dean’s alleged interactions with Rogers Brackett may have been an example of this theory in action.
Screenwriter William Bast once referred to James as Brackett’s ‘kept boy’. He also claims to have once found a drawing of a monstrous lizard creature with the head of Brackett in one of Dean’s sketchbooks. Brackett himself would later say while he primarily interested in Dean as an actor. He had a father-son-like relationship with him that was also, as he put it, ‘somewhat incestuous’.
One of Dean’s college buddies from UCLA, James Bellah, would later say that he didn’t believe Dean was homosexual. He did, however, think that James used his sexuality to get what he wanted out of life. Bellah further claims that he knew of a time that Dean performed a sexual act at an agent’s office to advance his agenda.
Actor and filmmaker Mark Rydell echoed these sentiments when he said that while he didn’t believe Dean was a homosexual; he did have ‘big appetites’ and ‘exercised them’.
Not Just For Trade
Although many of Dean’s former colleagues, friends, and associates believed that he only used his sexuality as a ‘trade’ to get him a leg up in the entertainment industry, several of James’ biographers tend to think otherwise.
One of Dean’s fellow motorcyclist friends and famed gonzo journalist, John Gilmore, claimed that he and Dean had experimented sexually on several occasions in New York. Gilmore described these sexual liaisons as ‘bad boys playing bad boys….opening up the bisexual sides’ of each other. Gilmore would later express that he believed James was more gay than bisexual.
Rebel Without a Cause’s director Nicholas Ray would go on record as saying that Dean was neither straight nor gay, rather he was bisexual. According to him, Dean stated on multiple occasions that he ‘swung both ways’.
Martin Landau, one of Dean’s good friends from the Actors Studio. However, claimed that whenever he and James hung out, they would talk about girls. Elizabeth Taylor would later confirm this in that 1997 POZ interview when she said that whenever she and Dean would go out, he would flirt with women.
If James Dean were alive today, he likely wouldn’t have had to be as cautious about his sexuality. If he really was bisexual or gay, he would have been able to explore those aspects of himself freely without having to worry about whether or not his career was about to go down in a fiery blaze of controversy. Really, it doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, what team James Dean played for who he loved. That really only his business, but his sexuality is destined to be something that continues to be hotly debated for the foreseeable future.
James Dean’s Death
On September 30, 1955, James Dean tragically killed when he involved in a two-car accident near Paso Robles, California. While Dean pronounced dead shortly after paramedics arrived at the scene, the passenger of his vehicle and the driver of the other car both survived.
Police reports indicate that speed was a contributing factor in the accident as Dean was traveling at speeds over 65 MPH at the time of the crash.
After his death, Dean became the first actor to be honor with a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. A ‘James Dean Monument’ later placed near the place of his death on Highway 46 that stands to this day.
James laid to rest at the Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana. His grave has since become a pilgrimage site for many of his fans.
It’s clear that James Dean made a significant impact on the world of entertainment in the short time that he was with us. His legacy continues to shine on brightly. Yet again, one can only imagine where his life and career would have taken him if he hadn’t died so young.
Anyway, now it’s your turn to let your voice be hear. In the comments, let us know whether you think it was appropriate for Elizabeth Taylor to reveal James Dean’s molestation secret as she did. Beyond that, do you think it’s anybody’s business to speculate about James Dean’s sexuality?